Morning Report: A Look at What’s Left on the Minor League Schedule

Now that the trade deadline is over, I wanted to take a look at what is left on the minor league side of things. We get a lot of questions about minor league promotions, and not just players moving up to the majors. So here’s a quick look at what remains for every team.

Indianapolis wraps up their season on September 3rd. They are in line for a possible playoff spot right now and their chances look great with just 31 games left in the season. As a side note, I’ll be adding the Playoff Push section back tomorrow, which will cover all nine affiliates and the Pirates. Indianapolis is the team that stands to lose the most because the Pirates will call up a group of players on September 1st, especially if they’re in a chase for the wild card spot. Some bench/bullpen depth guys will stick around in Indianapolis until either the end of the season or the end of the playoffs, but Indianapolis will lose significant players. That happens every September 1st, so they’re used to it there.

Altoona also has a shot at the playoffs. For the most part, the core of the team will stick together unless they’re out of the playoffs, then significant players would move up for the added experience of Triple-A playoffs. That also works the other way…

Bradenton needs a miracle to make the playoffs. Their season wraps up a day before everyone else at the top five levels. What not making the playoffs means for their players, is that you could see someone like Jared Oliva join Altoona late. It also means that players from West Virginia likely won’t get a late promotion. If you do that now, they get about 30 games, which isn’t bad, but the longer you wait, the less likely it is and the less sense it makes.

West Virginia isn’t making the playoffs. Any promotions from them to Bradenton, or to them from Morgantown, would be out of filling a need. Maybe we see first round pick Travis Swaggerty (pictured above) move up a level, maybe not. It happened with Kevin Newman, then didn’t happen with Will Craig and they had similar stats.

Morgantown ends on the 3rd and you might see them get players later in the year from the lower levels. They play for another five days after Bristol ends and another nine days after the GCL ends. So someone in either of those leagues can get a promotion to get in some extra play at a higher level. There is one usual flaw in that plan this year…

Bristol ends on August 29th, but they are only two games out of a playoff spot right now. Unless that changes sometime soon (for the worse), then anyone here will probably stay here unless a need arises in Morgantown. While added experience at a higher level can help, playoff experience, and even just playoff races, are great experiences for the players. I’ve mentioned it a lot but it’s worth repeating. Most fans don’t care about the team records, but the players want to win and the late season games are pressure filled.

The bottom three teams all finish on August 25th. It’s basically three weeks left in each season. Since they end on the same day, you won’t see any DSL players come to the U.S. unless it’s out of necessity and that’s unlikely with a full 35-man roster in the GCL. What you could see is someone like Ji-Hwan Bae or Jean Eusebio moved up to either Bristol, or Morgantown, depending on how the playoffs are going in Bristol. You could also see players getting rewarded for their hard work by getting promoted. I’ve heard some great things about how the non-drafted free agents put forth effort and I think that’s why you’re seeing them get extra playing time. So it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them get rewarded late.

** DSL player Eddison Polonia has been suspended by minor league baseball for 72 games due to a failed drug test involving Stanozolol. He’s actually been on the restricted list for some time now and when I asked about it four days ago, he said it was a bad test and believed he wasn’t going to be suspended. If there was indeed some appeal made, it’s too bad because Polonia has been out with a back injury and could have been serving his suspension during a time in which he was unable to play anyway.

Now he will be out of action until about this same time next year, though he will be able to take part in the Fall Instructional League (if he’s healthy by then) and Spring Training next year, so he will see game action within that full calendar year of missing games. They also have a minor league version of the DSL for the July 2nd players and players there on tryouts, so he can play there next season as well. Of course he won’t get paid for any of those games, but he will stay in shape.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 9-2 to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night. The Pirates have off today before the St Louis Cardinals come to PNC Park for three games. On Friday, Chris Archer will get the start in his Pirates debut, coming off of his last outing on July 27th when he gave up three runs over six innings against the Baltimore Orioles. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander John Gant, who has a 3.49 ERA in 59.1 innings, with 50 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP. In his last outing, he gave up two runs over 4.1 innings against the Chicago Cubs.

The minor league schedule includes Mitch Keller making his fifth start for Indianapolis. He allowed two earned runs over five innings in his last outing. Scooter Hightower slides into the Altoona rotation with Taylor Hearn traded. Bradenton doesn’t have a starter listed, but Mike Wallace has been following his brother Gavin in the rotation recently, so I’m guessing it will be him. West Virginia will have Travis MacGregor on the mound. He has given up four earned runs in each of his last two starts, after allowing a high of three runs (once) in his first 12 starts. The GCL Pirates and Bristol both have doubleheaders today. Roger Santana will start one game for Bristol.

MLB: Pittsburgh (56-53) vs Cardinals (54-53) 7:05 PM 8/3
Probable starter: Chris Archer (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (60-49) @ Toledo (56-52) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (8.66 ERA, 24:11 SO/BB, 17.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (57-48) @ Harrisburg (55-52) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Scooter Hightower (6.59 ERA, 13:2 SO/BB, 13.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (49-52) vs St Lucie (41-63) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mike Wallace (4.50 ERA, 54:15 SO/BB, 80.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (54-50) vs Augusta (52-54) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Travis MacGregor (3.48 ERA, 69:16 SO/BB, 51.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (17-28) @ Williamsport (17-27) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (18-20) vs Bluefield (23-17) 6:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Roger Santana (4.09 ERA, 25:13 SO/BB, 33.0 IP) and TBD

GCL: Pirates (15-19) vs Yankees West 10:00 AM DH (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (24-27) vs Rangers1 10:30 AM  (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (20-31) vs Colorado 10:30 AM  (season preview)


From Indianapolis on Tuesday night, two highlights. First one is the fourth hit from Kevin Kramer

The next is the second Triple-A homer from Jason Martin


8/1: Bralin Jackson activated from the disabled list.

7/31: Pirates trade Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and a PTBNL to Rays for Chris Archer.

7/31: Pirates trade Taylor Hearn and a PTBNL to Rangers for Keone Kela.

7/29: Ben Bengtson and Rodolfo Castro placed on disabled list. Raul Siri and Jhoan Herrera added to West Virginia roster.

7/29: Erich Weiss activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

7/28: Pirates sign Justin Morris.

7/28: Josh Smoker claimed off waivers by Detroit Tigers

7/28: Josh Bell placed on disabled list. Jose Osuna recalled from Indianapolis.

7/28: Corey Dickerson placed on disabled list. Austin Meadows recalled from Indianapolis.

7/27: Pirates option Michael Feliz to Indianapolis. Recall Alex McRae

7/27: Jin-De Jhang assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

7/26: Deon Stafford placed on disabled list. Rafelin Lorenzo activated from West Virginia DL.

7/26: Francisco Cervelli activated from DL. Jacob Stalling optioned to Indianapolis.

7/25: Pirates recall Adam Frazier. Casey Sadler optioned to Indianapolis.

7/24: Erich Weiss assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

7/23: Cody Bolton placed on disabled list. Oddy Nunez demoted to West Virginia.

7/23: Pirates select contract of Casey Sadler. Max Moroff optioned to Indianapolis. Josh Smoker designated for assignment.

7/23: Nick Burdi assigned to Altoona on rehab.

7/23: Jacob Webb promoted to Bristol. Juan Henriquez assigned to GCL Pirates from Morgantown.

7/23: Will Gardner promoted to Morgantown.


Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a big trade of note. On this date in 1985, the Pittsburgh Pirates sent outfielder George Hendrick, reliever Al Holland and starter John Candelaria to the California Angels for outfielder Mike Brown and pitchers Bob Kipper and Pat Clements. It was a deal involving three veterans and three young players coming back to Pittsburgh. The Pirates lost over 100 games in 1985, but five years later, they had put together a team that would win three straight NL East pennants.

The two players born on this date both played on pennant winners, occurring 89 years apart. Tim Wakefield pitched for the 1992-93 Pirates. He was an eighth round draft pick of Pittsburgh in 1988, but he was a position player back then. He was switched to the mound the next year and didn’t take long to make it to the majors. As a rookie, he went 8-1, 2.15 in 13 starts, then threw two complete game victories in the NLCS. After a very poor 1993 season, he was released and it ended up hurting the Pirates. He would win 186 games for the Red Sox over 17 seasons.

The other player was pitcher Bucky Veil, who got the nickname because he was a star pitcher at Bucknell. He was a rookie on the 1903 Pirates, going 5-3, 3.82 in 70.2 innings. During the first modern day World Series, he pitched the last seven innings of game two, allowing one run. The next year, he pitched just one game for the Pirates, which ended up being his last Major League game.




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